May 2010

#1. Your 4 year old regularly incorporates the term “Amazon” into his daily language

#2. You have your credit card number memorized for quicker typing

#3. Not only do you know your mail carrier’s name, you also know how many children they have, and their ages

#4. Your mail carrier knows your children’s names and nap times

#5. When the kids beg for toys they ask to have them “shipped”

Once again, my web browser is piling up with great tabbed links. Posted here so that I can de-tab my browser and actually let my laptop sleep for once:

  • Child’s T-shirt pattern – We have a whopping two short-sleeved t-shirts for Braniac to wear this summer. On a whim, I searched google for a free pattern, and “ta-dah!” here it is. I think I have a half yard of stretchy knit somewhere to try this out on…
  • Haircut Cape – After yet another little boy haircutting session that ended with Braniac near tears and driven loco from itchiness, here is another google success. I think I’ll probably just end up making it in a cotton weave because i don’t think I have any slick-ish material around.
  • Giacomo’s Baby Hat – a cute knit hat that I intend to make (sans pom-pom) to match newbie’s sweater. I’ve never tried fair-isle and this seems like a good project to start.
  • BuyAlaska – I’m not sure how I browsed my way around to this site, but I likey. I’m not a strictly “buy local” gal, but if I can find something local for a comparable price, then by all means I want to try to support the local economy. Etsy’s Shop Local search feature is also great for finding local treasures.
  • Handwriting Worksheet Maker – perfect for helping me in our preschool lessons. This site can generate handwriting worksheets from whatever words you choose.
  • Foraging in Alaska –  The contents of the book Foraging and Wildcrafting in Alaska by Walsh and Fongemie. This is a great resource for identifying local edible plants. If only this book weren’t out of date. It’s tempting to copy the files and have them print it out downtown. This would be a priceless book to have on hand during a long term emergency. There are a couple of other Alaska-specific foraging books listed on Amazon. Does anyone know of any others?

This last year we made a huge step in preparing our home for potential gas/electric failures. We purchased the below stove and installed it. Our stove cranked away during the winter. We both feel that this has been one of our best purchases. We got 30% of our investment back as a tax credit, and this credit is available until the end of this year on efficient stoves. We were also able to claim the costs of adding further insulation to our attic, and received an additional 30% back through this same credit. I can’t explain how nice it is to know that if the power stops (as it did for a couple of hours this last winter), or prices skyrocket, we have over a years worth of warm heat split and stacked. If you’re interested in purchasing a stove yourself and have any questions on the brand/dealer we went through, feel free to ask. Below is the original post on this topic:

Finally, the last of the Emergency Preparedness series, WARMTH. Check out the past posts for WATER and FOOD.

In an Alaskan winter, where temperatures can often dip to -30 degrees, it is prudent to have a plan for keeping your family warm if gas and power are lost. Out of the three topics discussed in this series, this implementation is likely to be the most costly. Your options if your primary heat source is unavailable during the winter months is 1) abandon the house and seek shelter elsewhere, or 2) prepare by purchasing and implementing a second, “off-grid” source of warmth. We’ll take a look at these two options separately:

  1. If you don’t have a way to heat your home in an emergency, you’ll want to take steps to protect your investments from freezing temperatures. To lessen the speed at which heat leaves your home, take the following steps: check the weather stripping around your doors and windows, and replace if necessary. Check your attic insulation and blow/lay in more if necessary. Simply Insulate has detailed information on determining your actual and recommended R-value and adding insulation.
  2. Install an off-grid source of heat. Temporarily, heaters that run off of propane could be useful, but they’re not meant for long term use, and they must be used carefully to insure the safety of your house and family. A generator can be tied into your current heating system to provide warmth, or a generator can be used to power several electric heaters. Your best bet if you’re interested in long-term off-grid warmth is to invest in a wood stove. We just bought a stove at Central Plumbing and Heating’s annual sale last month. With the 20% off discount we were able to purchase the stove, pipe, and accessories for less than it would have cost for just the stove at regular prices. Thank you God! If you’re in the market for plumbing or heating supplies, keep this sale in mind as it affects the prices of nearly all items in CPH.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of work it takes to get prepared in this area. Baby steps, eh? For example, you could start saving for a stove and plan on checking your insulation R-Value this summer. Have fun crawling around in your attic 🙂

Thanks to my mom for sending me this link to The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks. I was going to post some of my favorites here, but there are just too many and I’m too “lazy”. Go check this site out yourself. It will make you “laugh” and might even hurt your “brain” a bit like it did mine.

We started making yogurt at home when our oldest was 9 months old, and we haven’t stopped since. Homemade yogurt is waaaay easier than you’d think, and it takes very little time. All you need is some milk and either a couple of tablespoons of plain yogurt, or yogurt starter. A yogurt incubator is helpful too (we got ours at Fred’s for around $20) but it’s not necessary. Here’s a step by step tutorial on how to make your own yogurt.

Another good tutorial and the recipe we use (not to mention a great cooking site) is located here. This “recipe” in a nutshell:

  1. heat up 4 cups of milk to just before boiling. Stir occasionally. Don’t let it burn – that’s icky.
  2. take off heat and add 1/3 C. powdered milk.
  3. Let cool to room temp
  4. add 1/3 ish cup of plain yogurt (you can use some from your last batch) & mix well
  5. pour mixture into incubator and plug in for 8-9 hours (or use alternate incubation method, just Google yogurt making)
  6. Put yogurt in fridge, cool, and eat. Yum!

Remember this post on cloth diapering? If you’re in the market for diapers, my favorite fitted diapers are from Wooly Bums. My friend sews up these lovely dipes and sells them on Etsy. Made from organic bamboo velour, they are very absorbent (these are my usual choice for nighttime and outings) and super cute. They come with two doublers. Doublers are lay-in or snap-in material that add to the absorbency when needed. Check out the Wooly Bums blog for diapering info and fabric previews. Blog followers also get special discounts at the Etsy store. Wooly Bums also sells knitted longies (at some of the best prices on the ‘net) and adorable knitted hats.